Title: Free Spirit
Label: Quarto Valley Records
This is a 3LP set, presented in a double fold-out gatefold sleeve, captures Paul Rodgers in a live setting, the Royal Albert Hall in London, as he meanders through the catalogue of his former band, Free. The pack includes an extra disc of performances from both Paul’s daughter, Jasmine Rodgers and Deborah Bonham, the sister of the late Led Zeppelin drummer, John who acted as openers for Paul on the evening.
You’ll find all of the classics here such as All Right Now, Wishing Well and Fire and Water but you’ll also hear songs that the band never actually played live, including Love You So and Catch a Train.
One nice addition, in addition to the photographs of the live concert on the outer sleeve, arrives on the six sides of the inner sleeves as each is plastered with newspaper cuttings that track that rise, success and break-up of the band.
Generally speaking, in sonic terms, live albums are rated on damage limitation because audiophile productions, they are not. As per usual and in strictly audiophile standards, this new release is full of bloomy bass, tizzy treble and unbalanced tones. More than that, the Hall is not the best sonic stage in the world, it has to be said.
That said, for a live album, it ain’t half bad while the raw material has been mastered well with very little compression if any, providing a warming glow to the presentation which, considering the age of the raw material, is apt. The balance between the performers and audience is good with the audience being ‘visible’ but not dominating while the Paul Rodgers’ vocal is relatively clear and emotive. Above all, the performance conveys the passion of the evening. A heartfelt occasion wallowing in nostalgia. Play these grooves and feel the love.
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